Kaitlyn Martinez never imagined she would finish her junior year at UNT sharing a three-bedroom house with her mother, grandparents and two younger siblings. But after being exposed to COVID-19 in March, the family faced a strict two-week quarantine.
Then, like many, they worked to find a new normal. Amidst the chaos of a crowded home, Martinez struggled to manage nerves about the future -- especially when her job in a UNT computer lab transitioned to remote work with fewer hours.
"As a college student, I live paycheck to paycheck," Martinez says. "My employers at UNT worked hard to offer some security, but I was scared. "
Martinez was not alone in that fear. As students were thrown into uncertain waters, the UNT community came together to help them persevere. Through gifts to the UNT Cares campaign -- a university fundraising initiative created in response to the public health crisis -- donors ensured more students had the resources they needed to offset unexpected financial strain.
"The collective impact of gifts to the UNT Cares fund has been amazing," says David Wolf, vice president for University Advancement. "Because of the generosity of our Mean Green family, we've been able to award emergency scholarships to students in need from each of UNT's 14 colleges and schools. "
Martinez heard about the emergency relief funding just in time.
"I was days away from having to find a job that would have taken up a lot of my hours during the day," she says. "I needed to work, but I know I wouldn't have been able to focus on my studies. "
For Martinez, working on a double major in converged broadcast media and political science, receiving UNT Cares funds meant being able to pay tuition and bills while successfully completing her 18-credit-hour semester.
Determined, the Honors College student -- who calls herself a hands-on learner -- borrowed a laptop from UNT and adjusted to online courses. She spent the rest of the upended semester moving around her house to find quiet places for virtual classes and meetings while her mother -- a teacher -- and her siblings did the same.
There's no roadmap for success during unprecedented times, but Martinez says the scholarship from the UNT Cares fund helped her stay on track. With her short-term needs taken care of, she was able to keep moving toward her long-term goal of becoming a newscast director or producer.
"I was really worried about what was going to happen, but this scholarship gave me the financial peace I needed to focus on my studies and help my family take care of each other during this emotional rollercoaster," she says. "I'm so grateful."
Anyone, anywhere can transform lives at UNT.
Visit UNT Cares to learn how giving a little can make a big difference.